Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fun Stuff In My Collection, pt, 1

Believe it or not, there existed a golden time when the music industry as we know it was NOT in dire financial trouble, hemorrhaging money quicker than they can steal it. It was the time of wine and roses, and artists were exploited for every last cent the major labels could get away with. During this time in 1987, Virgin Records, long a stalwart British record label, decided to open up its American affiliate. Virgin had famous signings by that point; the Sex Pistols, XTC, Culture Club, and countless others called it their UK label home. With their purchase of the Charisma label, Virgin UK's catalog grew to encompass Genesis, Peter Gabriel, and Phil Collins (as well as the Monty Python catalog). Virgin Records UK had prior distribution deals with labels such as Atlantic, CBS/Epic, and licensed catalog to Geffen and other labels. But they never had a PRESENCE in the states. This changed, when the US offices formally opened.

The first major release from Virgin US was Cutting Crew's monster #1 single, "(I Just) Died In Your Arms". As a promotional tool for this song, Virgin US pressed up the 12" single in the picture above. This record is actually shaped like a circular saw blade, and it's the weirdest-shaped record I own. Its edges really are sharp, and the warning label is a laugh ("Not to be used as a Frisbee.").

Virgin would ultimately sell its record company to EMI (and remain in the airline industry), Cutting Crew released only one more album before breaking up, and the music industry today is in shambles. But for a brief moment, Virgin US spent silly money to press records in the shape of circular saw blades. You might own a copy of this song yourself. But chances are, I have a cooler copy of it than you do.


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